The government might have the excuse it needs to bottle its immigration cap promise?

This month sees the Migration Advisory Committee publish its much anticipated report on the proposed immigration cap in the UK, which could influence the government’s decision on the permanent cap that will replace the current temporary one.


We should get the debate going in anticipation of the MAC report and the government decision that follows it.


I thought the big debate is whether intra company transfers (ICTs) will be included in the permanent cap or not. They do after all account for a massive number of non EU IT workers in the UK.


But the real debate could be whether the government gets rid of the cap or raises it to allow more immigrant workers into the UK.


Maybe the government has an opportunity to pull out of its pre-election commitment. Mark Lewis, a lawyer specialising in outsourcing at Berwin Leighton Paisner, said reaction to the cap from big business has been negative and could influence the government’s decision. Or the government might just raise the cap significantly.


This is what Mark Lewis said:


“Having announced that they would introduce a quota of highly skilled workers from outside the EU, the government introduced a seemingly low interim quota. It is now facing a backlash from UK industry.


“They could use the backlash and say they have listened to concerns and either remove the cap or increase it.


“This could be a way out for the government. It could be a clever way of getting out of a pre-election commitment to the quota.”


I must say the promised cap did scream of electioneering. Labour was against the cap as were the Liberals and the whole idea of the cap seems very un-Torylike to me. 


 There has been a lot in the news recently about the immigration cap. We have had government minister Vince Cable come out and say it is a mistake. And then you have a Sunday Express opinion poll revealing that 51% of people believe that controlling immigration is the most important issue facing the country after the economy. Lots of Tory voters in that sample.


There was also a 5 Live broadcast about ICTs last week.


The issue is particularly relevant in the IT sector because thousands of workers come to the UK every year to work on IT projects.


See this article for the facts and figures about immigrant labour in the UK.


Another contact of mines thinks the government might fudge the whole issue.


“The easiest fudge to the figures is to make ICT visas last 364 days. They would then disappear off the Long Term International Migration figures.
One of the loopholes in the current cap is that ‘in country transfers’ to tier 1 general visas are not capped. This loophole is likely to be closed in some way.
Neither of these are likely to be particularly helpful for UK IT workers, but they will help achieve the government’s target.”